About the Department

Eric Beerbohm

Eric Beerbohm

Frederick S. Danzinger Associate Professor of Government and Social Studies
Political Theory

Eric Beerbohm is Frederick S. Danzinger Associate Professor of Government and the Committee on Social Studies at Harvard University and Director of Graduate Fellowships at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics. His philosophical and teaching interests include democratic theory, theories of distributive justice, and the philosophy of social science. His current book project, If Elected: The Ethics of Lawmaking and Campaigning, reveals the systematic connection between the responsibilities of lawmakers and candidates for legislative office. The project attempts to update democratic theory's picture of legislative politics, identifying principles that bear upon democratic compromise, legislative leadership, and the obligations of governance. For instance, the emergence of the “victory lab,” where citizens become experimental subjects, raises new moral facts for the practice of electioneering. His third project, Small Government, considers the division of labor between the public, voluntary, and private sectors. It raises agent-relative problems for political theory: How much must the state do itself? What can it privatize?And what can it can offload to voluntary organizations? His first book, In Our Name: The Ethics of Democracy (Princeton University Press, 2012), examines the responsibilites of citizens for the injustices of their state. A Marshall Scholar and Mellon Fellow in the Humanities and Social Sciences, he received his Ph.D. from Princeton University in 2008, B.Phil. in Philosophy from Oxford University, and BA in Political Science and the Program in Ethics in Society from Stanford University. He was a Faculty Fellow at the Safra Center for Ethics in 2008-2009. He is a recipient of the 2012 Roslyn Abramson Award, Harvard University’s highest award for teaching given annually to two faculty in Arts and Sciences for "excellence and sensitivity in undergraduate teaching." He is Founding Director the Undergraduate Fellowship Program at the Safra Center for Ethics                 


  • “The Conceptual Priority of Injustice,” Jurisprudence, forthcoming, reply by Amartya Sen
  • “The Problem of Clean Hands: Negotiated Compromise in Lawmaking,” NOMOS: Compromise, ed. J. Knight, New York University Press, forthcoming (w/ replies from D. Dyzenhaus and A. Ford)
  • “Mansbridge’s Rules of Order,” to appear in Oxford Handbook of Classics in Contemporary Political Theory, ed. by Jacob Levy, University of Oxford Press.
  • “The Free Provider Problem: Distributive Justice as a Public Responsibility,” in Democracy and Philanthropy, eds. R. Reich, L. Bernholz, C. Cordell, under review.
  • “The Ethics of Electioneering” conditionally accepted, Journal of Political Philosophy
  • “Is Democratic Leadership Possible?” revise/resubmit, American Political Science Review
  • “Perpetual Giving Machines,” Boston Review, Fall 2013
  • “Democracy as an Inflationary Concept,” Representation, 10:1 (2011)
  • “The Dilemma of Democratic Representation,” under review
  • “Procrastination in Lawmaking,” under review

  Working Papers 

  • “Detecting Causal Masking,” with Adam Glynn and Anton Strezhnev 
  • “The Common Good: A Buck-passing Account,” with Ryan Davis
  • “Truth, Lies and Public Reason: A Reply to Joshua Cohen,” with Kritika Yegnashankaran 
  • “Not By Our Hands: Agent-Relative Restrictions on State Action”
  • “Nozick’s Wager: Uncertainty and Distributive Justice”
  • “Politics, Stakes, and Integrity”
  • “For a Smaller Moral World”
  • “Tolerable Injustice: Decency as a Moral Category”
  • “Coherence as a Design Principle: A Response to John Ferejohn”


Email Address




Office Locations

1737 Cambridge Street, CGIS K421, Cambridge, MA 02138

Office Hours

Wednesdays 2-4p


Scheduled talks for 2014-2015:

  • Oxford University
  • London School of Economics
  • Duke University
  • Georgetown University
  • Essex University
  • Washington University
  • University of Geneva
  • “The Vote Pump Argument,” American Philosophical Association Annual Meeting, Panel on Collective Inaction, December 2014
  • Conference on Democratic Compromise, University of Copenhagen (Keynote Speaker)

      Video, Talk on Democratic Compromise and Lawmaking at Yale University, Conference on Epistemic Democracy                 

   Undergraduate Courses

  • Gov 10: Foundations of Political Theory
  • Social Studies 40: Philosophy and Methods of Social Science
  • Gov 94: Junior Tutorial on Global Justice
  • Gov 94: Egalitarianism

Graduate Courses

  • Gov 2088: Ethical Foundations of Political Thought (with Michael Rosen)
  • Gov 3000: Safra Graduate Seminar: Theories of Law and Lawmaking

 Photo courtesy of Stephanie Mitchell/Photographer, Harvard Gazette  


Print Friendly and PDF